UK’s Prince Charles tests positive for COVID-19 for a second time

UK’s Prince Charles tests positive for COVID-19 for a second time
Royal officials say Britain’s Prince Charles has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating. (AP)
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Updated 10 February 2022

UK’s Prince Charles tests positive for COVID-19 for a second time

UK’s Prince Charles tests positive for COVID-19 for a second time
  • Charles, 73, had been due to attend an event in Winchester to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of his mother Queen Elizabeth
  • There was no immediate comment on his condition or when he last saw his 95-year-old mother

LONDON: Prince Charles has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said on Thursday, the second time that the heir to the British throne has contracted the disease.
Charles, 73, had been due to attend an event in Winchester, in southwestern England, to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession of his mother Queen Elizabeth and was “deeply disappointed” he could no longer attend, his office, Clarence House, said.
“This morning The Prince of Wales has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now self-isolating,” it said in a statement on Twitter.
There was no immediate comment on his condition or when he last saw his 95-year-old mother.
On Wednesday, the prince attended a reception for the British Asian Trust where pictures showed him chatting to other guests including British finance minister Rishi Sunak. Health minister Sajid Javid and interior minister Priti Patel were also among those who were due to attend.
Charles, who said in December both he and his wife Camilla had received their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, previously tested positive for the virus in March 2020 when he said he had been “lucky” to have suffered only mild symptoms.
He spent seven days in self-isolation at his Birkhall home in Scotland before resuming his duties. Charles’s son Prince William also contracted COVID-19 shortly after his father in 2020.
Camilla was still performing engagements in London on Thursday. She said she was “very, very honored” and “very touched” by Elizabeth publicly stating her desire that Charles’s second wife should become Queen Consort when he becomes king.


Inspired by Ukraine, civilians study urban warfare in Taiwan

Inspired by Ukraine, civilians study urban warfare in Taiwan
Updated 7 sec ago

Inspired by Ukraine, civilians study urban warfare in Taiwan

Inspired by Ukraine, civilians study urban warfare in Taiwan
  • Disquiet over China had been brewing in Taiwan long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine

NEW TAIPEI CITY: Dressed in military camouflage with an assault rifle at the ready, “Prof” Yeh peers from behind a vehicle in a parking lot outside Taipei, scanning his surroundings and waiting for a signal to advance.
Yeh actually works in marketing, and his weapon is a replica — but he is spending the weekend attending an urban warfare workshop to prepare for what he sees as the very real threat of a Chinese invasion.
“The Russia-Ukraine war is a big reason why I came to this workshop,” 47-year-old Yeh, whose call sign during training is “Prof,” tells AFP during a break between sessions.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine at the end of February, he gave shape to the darkest fears of many Taiwanese.
The self-governed democracy lives under constant threat from authoritarian China, which views the island as part of its territory and has pledged to take it one day.
But the war in Ukraine has also inspired Yeh.
The resilience of Ukrainian forces has given him hope that with the right tactics, Taiwan too might have a chance defending itself against its much mightier neighbor.
He is not alone — the organizers of the urban combat course say their students have nearly quadrupled since February. Firearms and first aid courses have also seen increased enrolment.

Disquiet over China was brewing in Taiwan long before the Russian invasion.
Max Chiang, CEO of the company that organizes the workshops, says there has been “a heightened sense of crisis” among Taiwanese people since 2020, when Chinese warplanes began making regular incursions into the island’s air identification zone.
Roughly 380 sorties were recorded that year — a number that more than doubled in 2021, and is on track to do so again this year, according to an AFP database.
China comprehensively outnumbers Taiwan militarily, with over one million ground force personnel to Taiwan’s 88,000, 6,300 tanks compared with 800, and 1,600 fighter jets to 400, according to the US Department of Defense.
But Ukraine has provided a practical blueprint for how to make that disparity matter less.
It has vividly demonstrated how fighting for control of cities can be difficult and costly for attacking forces — and most of Taiwan’s 23 million people live in urban areas.
As Yeh and his 15 teammates run in staggered column formation across the parking lot, stooping behind dilapidated buildings and vehicles to simulate attacks on enemy positions, they are trying to put some of the lessons learned in Ukraine’s devastated cities into practice.
“The best defense is offense,” Yeh emphasises, as instructors in bright reflective vests stand nearby taking notes.
“To put it bluntly, annihilate the enemy and stop any enemy advances.”

In a warehouse beside the parking lot, 34-year-old Ruth Lam is learning to fire a handgun for the first time.
Lam, who works at an emergency vehicle lights manufacturer, said that most of her European clients had told her there would not be a war in Ukraine.
“But it happened,” she says.
She is hoping that knowing how to handle a gun might protect her and her family if there is war, and is planning to continue target practice with friends.
“Prepare your umbrella before it rains,” she says. “We don’t know when things are going to happen.”
In a survey conducted in May, 61.4 percent of respondents said they were willing to take up arms in the event of an invasion.
“The will of the Ukrainian people to fight against aggressors has increased the resolve of Taiwanese to safeguard their homeland,” Chen Kuan-ting, CEO of Taiwan think-tank NextGen Foundation, tells AFP.
Lin Ping-yu, a former paratrooper who came to the urban warfare class “to brush up on his combat skills,” concurs.
“Only when a country’s citizens have the strong will and determination to protect their land can they convince the international community to come help them,” the 38-year-old says.
Yeh believes it is a question of when, not if, they will be called to put their new skills into action.
Citing the example of Hong Kong, where Beijing has moved to consolidate its grip in the last few years, he says simply: “Taiwan is next.”
 


MI5, FBI chiefs warn over intensified China commercial espionage

MI5, FBI chiefs warn over intensified China commercial espionage
Updated 07 July 2022

MI5, FBI chiefs warn over intensified China commercial espionage

MI5, FBI chiefs warn over intensified China commercial espionage
  • China is “set on stealing your technology ... and using it to undercut your business,” says FBI Director Chris Wray
  • Beijing's response: “They spread all kinds of lies about China in order to smear China’s political system"

LONDON: The heads of MI5 and the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned Wednesday about China’s commercial espionage thrust in the West, in a rare joint address at the British intelligence service’s London headquarters.
Speaking to an audience of officials and business executives in Thames House, MI5 Director General Ken McCallum and FBI Director Chris Wray said the threat from Chinese spies is paramount in both countries and only continues to grow.
McCallum said MI5, the British domestic intelligence service, had sharply expanded its China-focused operations.
“Today we’re running seven times as many investigations as we were in 2018,” he said.
“We plan to grow as much again, while also maintaining significant effort against Russian and Iranian covert threats.”
He said Chinese intelligence takes a slow and patient approach to developing sources and gaining access to information, and few of those targeted recognized themselves as such.
“Hostile activity is happening on UK soil right now,” he said.
“By volume, most of what is at risk from Chinese Communist Party aggression is not, so to speak, my stuff. It’s yours — the world-leading expertise, technology, research and commercial advantage developed and held by people in this room, and others like you.”
Wray said China’s threat was a “complex, enduring and pervasive danger” to both the United States and Britain, as well as other allies.
China is “set on stealing your technology, whatever it is that makes your industry tick, and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market,” he added.
The two also warned that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, which Beijing views as its territory, would cause a massive disruption to global commerce and industry.
They urged businesses to stay alert and report possible threats.
“The Chinese Communist Party is interested in our democratic, media and legal systems. Not to emulate them, sadly, but to use them for its gain,” said McCallum.
Beijing rejected the accusations, describing them as “completely groundless.”
“The so-called cases they listed are pure shadow chasing,” the spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in Britain said in a statement posted on the mission’s website.
“They spread all kinds of lies about China in order to smear China’s political system, stoke anti-China and exclusion sentiment, and divert public attention in order to cover up their own infamous deeds.”


Migrant trafficking network in Europe smashed

Migrant trafficking network in Europe smashed
Updated 07 July 2022

Migrant trafficking network in Europe smashed

Migrant trafficking network in Europe smashed

LONDON: A 26-year-old Iranian-Kurdish people trafficker and 38 members of his gang were behind bars on Wednesday after police in five European countries smashed a major cross-border network that smuggled migrants into the UK.

The gang leader was arrested in Britain along with five other people smugglers. Germany arrested 18 gang members, French police nine and Dutch police six.
Police also seized more than 1,200 life-jackets, about 150 rubber boats and 50 engines, and tens of thousands of euros in cash, firearms and drugs.

The EU law enforcement agency Europol said the trafficking network could have smuggled as many as 10,000 illegal migrants to Britain over the past year and a half and netted as much as €15 million. Police officials said the gang was one of the most active criminal networks smuggling people from France and Belgium to Britain in small boats.

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“This is the most significant operation ever mounted against smuggling operations across the English Channel, especially with this phenomenon of small boats,” Europol deputy executive director Jean-Philippe Lecouffe said.
More than 28,500 people arrived in England illegally last year, mostly from the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan, after making the dangerous cross-Channel journey in often flimsy and dangerous vessels.

“Given the number of boats we seized yesterday ... we can expect a fall in the number of crossings in the immediate future,” Matt Rivers of the UK National Crime Agency said.
The British government hopes to start sending some of the illegal migrants to Rwanda but that plan — widely criticised in the UK and internationally — is being held up by legal challenges.


Russia’s Lavrov to join G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Indonesia

Russia’s Lavrov to join G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Indonesia
Updated 06 July 2022

Russia’s Lavrov to join G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Indonesia

Russia’s Lavrov to join G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Indonesia
  • The G20 includes Western countries that have accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine, but also nations such as China, India, and South Africa that have remained neutral

JAKARTA: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will this week attend a meeting in Bali with his counterparts from the Group of 20 largest economies, officials confirmed on Wednesday, as host Indonesia tries to mediate rifts in the bloc over Moscow’s participation.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s breadbaskets, has delivered shockwaves to global supply chains and also stoked an energy crisis following international sanctions slapped on Moscow — a major oil and gas producer — which has also led to rising inflation in many countries.

The G20 includes Western countries that have accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine, but also nations such as China, India, and South Africa that have remained neutral. The gathering will be the first time that foreign ministers of some of the world’s top economies have met Lavrov since the beginning of the invasion in late February.

Indonesia, which this year holds the rotating G20 presidency and has been facing pressure to exclude Russia from the summit scheduled to take place in November, is expecting a full attendance during the ministerial meeting on Friday.

“All G20 foreign ministers will be present in Bali,” Teuku Faizasyah, spokesperson for the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Arab News.

Lavrov’s attendance was further confirmed by Denis Tetiushin, a spokesperson of the Russian Embassy in Jakarta, who told Arab News that the “agenda is the same for all the delegations,” including Russia’s.

Friday’s meeting comes after Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s trip last week to Kyiv and Moscow to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin — both of whom have been invited to the November summit.

The G20 foreign ministers are expected to discuss ways to strengthen global collaboration and overcome the food crisis and global rise of commodity prices.

“With the new situation in Ukraine, issues related to food security will also be widely discussed at the G20 meetings,” the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “This meeting will serve as a strategic forum to discuss global recovery efforts.”

Indonesia has also invited non-member countries to attend this week’s meeting, including Ukraine. The Ukrainian ambassador in Jakarta, Vasyl Hamianin, told Arab News that Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will join the meeting virtually and that the eastern European nation sees its participation “positively.”

He said: “The global agenda at present is closely related to what happens in Ukraine.”

In a G20 finance meeting in Washington in April, top officials from the UK, Canada, and the US walked out on Russian representatives. The reaction to Lavrov in Bali may provide an indication of how the bloc’s members will respond if Putin attends in person the summit in Bali later this year, which has not been confirmed.

On Lavrov’s attendance at the ministerial meetings, Hamianin said: “War criminals and officials representing terrorist states must not be allowed to appear at any authoritative and respected international fora.” He added that Lavrov was the minister of the state that was, “committing massive crimes against humanity in Ukraine.”


Facing severe drought, Somalia calls for Turkish support

Facing severe drought,  Somalia calls for Turkish support
Updated 06 July 2022

Facing severe drought, Somalia calls for Turkish support

Facing severe drought,  Somalia calls for Turkish support
  • Some areas of the Horn of Africa could be declared in famine within weeks because of the driest drought in the region in decades

ANKARA: Somalia’s president on Wednesday called for assistance from Turkey to combat the effects of severe drought that is threatening the Horn of Africa.

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud made the comments during his first visit to Turkey since returning to office following an election in May. The two countries have forged close ties over the past decade.

“The humanitarian situation caused by the drought was one of the issues we discussed in our meeting with (Turkish) President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan,” Mohamud told reporters following a meeting with the Turkish leader.

He said: “I would like to take this opportunity to call upon our Turkish brothers to support us and do what they can, as they did before. Your solidarity and support will save the lives of the Somali people and will never be forgotten.”

Some areas of the Horn of Africa could be declared in famine within weeks because of the driest drought in the region in decades.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has abruptly drawn millions of dollars away from other crises and Somalia, facing a food shortage largely driven by the war, might be the most vulnerable.

Erdogan visited Somalia in 2011, amid a severe drought and devastating famine as Turkey sought to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa. The visit marked the start of Turkish humanitarian, development and infrastructure projects in Somalia. Turkey also established a military base in Somalia to train Somali soldiers.

“The Somali state and its people see Turkey and the Turkish people as true friends who support our efforts for development and stability in our country and stand by us,” Mohamud said in comments that were translated into Turkish.

Erdogan said Turkey’s humanitarian and development assistance to Somalia in the past decade has exceeded $1 billion.

Turkey has trained about 5,000 soldiers and 1,000 special forces police, he said, adding that Turkey would continue to support Somalia’s “stability and security.”